How Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) applies to the Food Industry
Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) is an organization that manages food safety (Unnevehr and Jensen, 625). HACCP oversees “analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product” (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)). A few of the food industries that HACCP works with are the following: seafood, dairy, fruit, and vegetable juices. Also, regulations are sent forth from HACCP for retail food safety (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)).
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HACCP was established in the 1960s in relation to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This program was started because of The Pillsbury Company’s plans for food production and research for space travel. Since Pillsbury was working for space travel NASA became involved in this movement as well. Other affiliations that contributed was The Natick Laboratories of the US Armed Forces and the US Air Force Space Laboratory Project Group. The goal was to produce a food that could be consumed under zero gravity conditions for astronauts. This had never been done before but the main concern was how to prevent contaminations of the food that could potentially result in illness for the consumer. During the development of this food, the researchers realized there was not a quality control group that could ensure that the product would be safe for consumption. Although food for astronauts was an extreme task, there was still a great need for an organization that would set standards that could be followed to ensure safety and quality of food (Bauman, 1).
There needed to be a system to test raw foods, food as it was being processed, and the end product. After research, it was noted that the majority of quality assurance systems were based on what the quality assurance manager thought was a good program. There was not any set rules or regulations to be followed to ensure that an excellent product was given each time. The best way to achieve this was to create a preventive program system. This required “control over the raw materials, the process, the environment, personnel, storage and distribution” starting as soon in the procedure as feasible (Bauman, 2). A process like this would make it possible to produce food with a high level of assurance for safety. It would also mean that the final product would not have to be tested only monitored for errors. The record keeping used by NASA was a great indication on how to set rules for the food industry as well. NASA required Pillsbury to keep a file that allowed any problems to be followed back to a common source. The information Pillsbury had to keep was the following: where the raw food products came from, the location where the food was produced, and the names of the individuals involved with the handling of the product. In the past, the raw materials had not been monitored but NASA’s new rules were changing this to a requirement. For example, fisherman catching seafood would document the exact location where the seafood was gathered and the name of the ship would also be reported (Bauman, 2). This was the beginning of the HACCP system. HACCP has been proven to be an effective tool to prevent the contamination of food and preserve food safety (Tompkins, 1).
There are five categories involved with HACCP that are analyzed when looking at food safety. Image 1 below shows that five categories associated with HACCP. This paper will examine and explain how each category relates to food safety.
Image 1: The categories included in HACCP. (http://lavongroup.com/hazard-analysis-critical-control-point-haccp/)
The first category included in HACCP is hazard. A hazard would be classified as a “biological, chemical, or physical property” that could pose a health risk to consumers and make food unsafe (Henry and Xin, S58). Hazard identification, assessment, and control are used in this regulatory system (Kharub, Limon, and Sharma, 1920). Hazard identification is the extent that HACCP is able to identify and analyze food risks. Hazard assessment is the capability to locate possible threats and set boundaries to keep food safe. Finally, hazard control is the effectiveness to regulate and monitor the measures to avoid or eliminate any risks that might present (Kharub, Limon, and Sharma, 1926).
There are many hazards that are found in the food industry and food markets (Bryan, 978). Hazards that can cause foodborne disease are the conditions during food storage and display, techniques used to prepare foods, and the time between heating food and eating. Other sources of contamination can be from people handling utensils and equipment that the raw food comes in contact with too (Bryan, 979). Pathogens can be transferred to food by workers if they have not sanitized their hands properly. Equipment surfaces and utensils can become contaminated if not cleaned properly.
Microorganisms are left to grow and multiply if food is left at room temperature for an extended amount of time or if the food is at a constant high temperature on a steam table or in a warming cabinet (Bryan, 979). HACCP offers more in-depth food safety assurance when compared to other inspections of food markets and service facilities to ensure the safety of food being consumed (Bryan, 978). This is an important role to recognize potential hazards and stop microorganisms from growing before it is an issue.
An analysis is valuable to assess the risk and begin to think about solutions if needed. The potential of survival and growth of contaminants is analyzed by a process review (Bryan, 979). Two main aspects are questioned when analyzing hazards: the probability of the hazard taking place and the severity of the hazard should it occur (Henry and Xin, S68). Samples are gathered to test for contamination by microorganisms (Broughall and Brown, 165). The samples are tested to determine if it is a positive or negative result for spoilage. The results of an analysis can represent that bacterium is present following handling of the product, no longer present on food following proper heating, and/or the pathogen has multiplied while staying at room temperature, inappropriate hot holding, or while refrigerating in large containers (Bryan, 979).
If following analysis of the results, the researcher is unsure about the results further testing can be completed. The food in question can be inoculated with the pathogen and held under conditions that correspond to the expected situation the food would be in once purchased by the consumer (Bryan, 979). This allows the researcher to be sure of the way the food in question will react with exposed under a certain set of conditions with a pathogen of choice. This serves to benefit the consumer and food supply company to know the duration of their products and how the food and bacteria respond under various conditions.
Critical Control Points
The final portion of HACCP is the critical control points (CCP). CCPs are a step or procedure where a control can be placed on a food safety hazard. This CCP is used to avoid, eradicate, or limit a hazard and make it acceptable to ensure food safety standards are not compromised. Critical control points make it possible for HACCP to be used at every stage during processing because the potential hazards are controlled (Henry and Xin, S58).
There are restrictions known as critical limits that mean the food is at a greater risk of becoming unsafe for consumption. If these boundaries are crossed the food is discarded. A few critical limits are restrictions for the following: temperature, time, water activity, pH, the presence of preservatives, and thickness of the food (Henry and Xin, S58).
Another part of CCPs is monitoring of the product to make sure the controls are stable and to a have a valid record for future verification. The three reasons for monitoring are listed below:
- Written documentation is available for proof that HACCP rules and regulations are being followed.
- It monitors the system’s process so that a tendency toward a loss of control is noticed and corrective action is taken that will bring the process back into control before a divergence occurs.
- When loss of control takes place, it is noticed quickly and steps can be taken to correct the issue.
Corrective action is taken rapidly to make sure CCPs are being followed and this is possible by observing the system. If deviation does occur the food is inspected to make sure unsafe food is not sent to the public. Since HACCP is watching the process from beginning to end that the food travels through there is not often a need to sample the final product. The final product does not have to be sampled because precautionary measures are taken to avoid any possible hazards. The stipulation to document events at critical control points regularly makes preventative monitoring orderly. The process includes: keeping a list of the names of the people associated with the HACCP team and their responsibilities, describing the product and its use, diagraming a flow chart of food preparation and listing the CCPs, establishing critical limits that will control hazards, keeping records, and validating HACCP system to make sure it is running effectively (Henry and Xin, S59).
In conclusion, HACCP is a system used to regulate food safety standards. HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point system (Mortimore and Wallace, 1). HACCP is used greatly in the food industry to monitor food safety and make sure the products disturbed are not contaminated (Panisello and Quantick, 165). HACCP controls food safety issues by taking a “science-based, systematic approach” (Cullor, 3449).
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The first step is to determine any hazards that might be present that would negatively affect the food. Common hazards are unclean surfaces, workers not cleaning their hands well, cross-contamination, and duration of time between heating food and consumption. The hazards are identified and controls are set to avoid any potential issues. The standards that HACCP follows are more specific and strict than other food service inspection agencies.
Secondly, an assessment of the risks present are observed and ideas for improvement are considered. A process review is completed and two main questions are examined. The two questions are:
- What is the likelihood of a hazard taking place?
- What will be the severity on the product should the hazard occur?
Samples are taken to determine if a certain food is contaminated by a pathogen. If a pathogen is present, the analysis is done to trace back to how the product became spoiled. Once it is known how the food was infected steps can be taken to prevent this from happening in the future. Further testing can be done through inoculation of food with certain pathogens to determine shelf life and/or how food will react with each infectious agents. This is valuable to the producers to learn more about their products and watch for any “red-flags” that might be existing in their foods. An analysis is able to be done prior to shipping out the food and can help avoid consumers becoming ill from ruined products.
Thirdly, critical control points are evaluated. CCPs are restrictions placed on food safety hazards. The purpose of CCPs is to avoid or prevent hazards from occurring thus guaranteeing food is safe for consumers. Hazards are controlled through this step of setting critical control points. Critical limits are restrictions that should not be crossed in order to confidently say a food is safe. If these boundaries are exceeded the food is thrown away because it is no longer considered to be safe under HACCP standards. Restrictions include but are not limited to: temperature food is cooked or held at, pH of the food, and the time remains at room temperature or in a heating apparatus. Written documentation is kept to have proof that HACCP rules are being followed. Documentation and monitoring are also important to be able to identify if there are deviations from the standards that require corrections to make sure the product is not lost. HACCP requires documentation to be taken throughout the entire processing of the food and especially at hazard points. These requirements make it possible to not have to participate in the sampling of the end product because the process the food has traveled through has been monitored from the beginning. The documentation not only helps to make the process more efficient but also allows for quick corrections if an issue does arise. The issue can be traced back to where or who it started with and can be resolved. If proper documentation is not kept it would be much harder to trace the exact problem causing contamination in the food.
All of these steps come together to preserve the integrity of the food being produced. These regulations give consumers confidence in the products they are buying and give guidelines that producers can follow. Through documentation, monitoring, setting controls, and eliminating hazards food safety has improved. HACCP does a good job setting principles to be followed for quality assurance in the food industry.
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- Unnevehr, Laurian, Jensen, Helen. “The Economic Implications of Using HACCP as a Food Safety Regulatory Standard”. Elsevier. Vol. 24, pp. 625-635. December 1999. 28 November 2018.
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